Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4237

By SpaceRef Editor
November 9, 2006
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4237


– Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: UT November 08, 2006 (DOY 312)


ACS/HRC 10556

Neutral Gas at Redshift z=0.5

Damped Lyman-alpha systems {DLAs} are used to track the bulk of the neutral hydrogen gas in the Universe. Prior to HST UV spectroscopy, they could only be studied from the ground at redshifts z>1.65. However, HST has now permitted us to discover 41 DLAs at z<1.65 in our previous surveys. Follow up studies of these systems are providing a wealth of information about the evolution of the neutral gas phase component of the Universe. But one problem is that these 41 low-redshift systems are spread over a wide range of redshifts spanning nearly 70% of the age of the Universe. Consequently, past surveys for low-redshift DLAs have not been able to offer very good precision in any small redshift regime. Here we propose an ACS-HRC- PR200L spectroscopic survey in the redshift interval z=[0.37, 0.7] which we estimate will permit us to discover another 41 DLAs. This will not only allow us to double the number of low-redshift DLAs, but it will also provide a relatively high-precision regime in the low-redshift Universe that can be used to anchor evolutionary studies. Fortunately DLAs have high absorption equivalent width, so ACS-HRC-PR200L has high-enough resolution to perform this proposed MgII-selected DLA survey.

ACS/HRC 10738

Earth Flats

Sky flats will be obtained by observing the bright Earth with the HRC and WFC. These observations will be used to verify the accuracy of the flats currently in the pipeline and to monitor any changes. Weekly coronagraphic monitoring is required to assess the changing position of the spots.

ACS/HRC 10833

Host Galaxies of Reverberation Mapped AGNs

We propose to obtain unsaturated high-resolution images of 17 reverberation-mapped active galactic nuclei in order to remove the point-like nuclear light from each image, thus yielding a “nucleus-free” image of the host galaxy. This will allow investigation of host galaxy properties: our particular interest is determination of the host-galaxy starlight contribution to the reverberation-mapping observations. This is necessary {1} for accurate determination of the relationship between the AGN nuclear continuum flux and the size of the broad Balmer-line emitting regions of AGNs, which is important in estimating black hole masses for large samples of QSOs, and {2} for accurate determination of the bolometric luminosity of the AGN proper. Through observations in Cycles 12 and 14, we have obtained or will obtain images of 18 of the 35 objects in the reverberation-mapping compilation of Peterson et al. {2004}. These observations revealed that the host-galaxy contribution, even in the higher-luminosity AGNs, is higher than expected and that all of the reverberation-mapped AGNs will have to be observed, not just the lower-luminosity sources; each source is different, and each source is important. Therefore we request time to observe the 17 remaining reverberation-mapped AGNs.

ACS/HRC 10883

Light Echoes for Type Ia Supernovae

We propose a SNAPshot survey of light echoes from highly extinct SNIa. The major science goal is to determine whether the dust causing the reddening of SNIa is of circumstellar origin or interstellar origin. We plan to observe about 25 SNIa. These observations are relevant for the studies of SNIa progenitor systems and for extinction corrections for supernova cosmology.


CCD Hot Pixel Annealing

Hot pixel annealing will continue to be performed once every 4 weeks. The CCD TECs will be turned off and heaters will be activated to bring the detector temperatures to about +20C. This state will be held for approximately 6 hours, after which the heaters are turned off, the TECs turned on, and the CCDs returned to normal operating condition. To assess the effectiveness of the annealing, a bias and four dark images will be taken before and after the annealing procedure for both WFC and HRC. The HRC darks are taken in parallel with the WFC darks. The charge transfer efficiency {CTE} of the ACS CCD detectors declines as damage due to on-orbit radiation exposure accumulates. This degradation has been closely monitored at regular intervals, because it is likely to determine the useful lifetime of the CCDs. We combine the annealling activity with the charge transfer efficiency monitoring and also merge into the routine dark image collection. To this end, the CTE monitoring exposures have been moved into this proposal . All the data for this program is acquired using internal targets {lamps} only, so all of the exposures should be taken during Earth occultation time {but not during SAA passages}. This program emulates the ACS pre-flight ground calibration and post-launch SMOV testing {program 8948}, so that results from each epoch can be directly compared. Extended Pixel Edge Response {EPER} and First Pixel Response {FPR} data will be obtained over a range of signal levels for both the Wide Field Channel {WFC}, and the High Resolution Channel {HRC}.


ACS CCDs daily monitor

This program consists of a set of basic tests to monitor, the read noise, the development of hot pixels and test for any source of noise in ACS CCD detectors. The files, biases and dark will be used to create reference files for science calibration. This programme will be for the entire lifetime of ACS. Changes from cycle 13:- The default gain for WFC is 2 e-/DN. As before bias frames will be collected for both gain 1 and gain 2. Dark frames are acquired using the default gain {2}. This program cover the period May, 31 2006- Oct, 1-2006. The first half of the program has a different proposal number: 10729.

ACS/WFC/NIC2 10496

Decelerating and Dustfree: Efficient Dark Energy Studies with Supernovae and Clusters

We propose a novel HST approach to obtain a dramatically more useful “dust free” Type Ia supernovae {SNe Ia} data set than available with the previous GOODS searches. Moreover, this approach provides a strikingly more efficient search-and-follow-up that is primarily pre- scheduled. The resulting dark energy measurements do not share the major systematic uncertainty at these redshifts, that of the extinction correction with a prior. By targeting massive galaxy clusters at z > 1 we obtain a five-times higher efficiency in detection of Type Ia supernovae in ellipticals, providing a well-understood host galaxy environment. These same deep cluster images then also yield fundamental calibrations required for future weak lensing and Sunyaev-Zel’dovich measurements of dark energy, as well as an entire program of cluster studies. The data will make possible a factor of two improvement on supernova constraints on dark energy time variation, and much larger improvement in systematic uncertainty. They will provide both a cluster data set and a SN Ia data set that will be a long standing scientific resource.

FGS 10927

The Weight-Watcher Program for Subdwarfs

We propose to use HST/FGS1r to measure five subdwarf spectroscopic binaries to determine masses for the components. Their metallicities, [Fe/H], range from -0.5 to -2.5, and their projected minimum separations range from 9 to 24 mas. These binaries are resolvable with HST/FGS1r but not any ground-based technique. Currently, there are only two subdwarf systems having any mass measurements. The proposed work will boost the total number of subdwarf systems with masses from two to seven, and allow us to construct the first mass-luminosity relation for low- metallicity stars.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8794

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 5

A new procedure proposed to alleviate the CR-persistence problem of NICMOS. Dark frames will be obtained immediately upon exiting the SAA contour 23, and every time a NICMOS exposure is scheduled within 50 minutes of coming out of the SAA. The darks will be obtained in parallel in all three NICMOS Cameras. The POST-SAA darks will be non-standard reference files available to users with a USEAFTER date/time mark. The keyword ‘USEAFTER=date/time’ will also be added to the header of each POST-SAA DARK frame. The keyword must be populated with the time, in addition to the date, because HST crosses the SAA ~8 times per day so each POST-SAA DARK will need to have the appropriate time specified, for users to identify the ones they need. Both the raw and processed images will be archived as POST-SAA DARKSs. Generally we expect that all NICMOS science/calibration observations started within 50 minutes of leaving an SAA will need such maps to remove the CR persistence from the science images. Each observation will need its own CRMAP, as different SAA passages leave different imprints on the NICMOS detectors.

NIC2 10847

Coronagraphic Polarimetry of HST-Resolved Debris Disks

We propose to take full advantage of the recently commissioned coronagraphic polarimetry modes of ACS and NICMOS to obtain imaging polarimetry of circumstellar debris disks that were imaged previously by the HST coronagraphs, but without the polarizers. It is well established that stars form in gas-rich protostellar disks, and that the planets of our solar system formed from a circum-solar disk. However, the connection between the circumstellar disks that we observe around other stars and the processes of planet formation is still very uncertain. Mid-IR spectral studies have suggested that disk grains are growing in the environments of young stellar objects during the putative planet-formation epoch. Furthermore, structures revealed in well resolved images of circumstellar disks suggest gravitational influences on the disks from co-orbital bodies of planetary mass. Unfortunately, existing imaging data provides only rudimentary information about the disk grains and their environments. Our proposed observations, which can be obtained only with HST, will enable us to quantitatively determine the sizes of the grains and optical depths as functions of their location within the disks {i.e., detailed tomography}. Armed with these well-determine physical and geometrical systemic parameters, we will develop a set of self-consistent models of disk structures to investigate possible interactions between unseen planets and the disks from which they formed. Our results will also calibrate models of the thermal emission from these disks, that will in turn enable us to infer the properties of other debris disks that cannot be spatially resolved with current or planned instruments and telescopes.

NIC2 10856

Delayed Negative Feedback in the Super Star Clusters of SBS0335-052E

The critical unanswered question in calculations of galaxy formation and evolution is the degree of feedback from the formation of the first massive stars on subsequent evolution. Even the sign of the term is uncertain. Super Star Clusters give one very dramatic answer by forming several thousand O stars in a volume with a radius of only a few parsecs. How can that many massive stars form in such a small volume without immediate dissipation of all gas by the intense ionizing radiation from the stars? SBS0335-052E has done this, not once but at least 6 times in a region of approximately 500 parsecs in size. It has also managed to do this with the third lowest metallicity of any known galaxy. The record lowest metallicity is held by its companion SBS0335- 052W. These observations are designed to test one answer to this enigma; that all of the ionizing photons are absorbed within a few hundred AU of the stars that emit them. This delays the negative feedback from photoionization and allows the formation of other stars in the immediate neighborhood who are oblivious to the massive stars nearby. This scenario predicts that both molecular and ionized gas exist within the radius of the super star clusters and that their emission should be spatially coincident. We propose to test this hypothesis with high spatial resolution NICMOS camera 2 images in the hydrogen Pa alpha and molecular hydrogen {1-0} S{1} emission lines. Spatial coincidence of the emission regions will confirm that gas within the cluster is shielded from ionizing and dissociating photons and is capable of forming new stars within this tiny region in spite of the presence of thousands of massive stars. The current burst of star formation was probably triggered by interaction with the giant spiral galaxy NGC 1376. This proposal contains parallel observations of this galaxy with the ACS WFC. Due to the intense interest in SBS0335-052 we waive all proprietary rights. The observations will then immediately compliment observations by the Great Observatories, Spitzer and ground base observatories .

WFPC2 10915

ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey

Existing HST observations of nearby galaxies comprise a sparse and highly non-uniform archive, making comprehensive comparative studies among galaxies essentially impossible. We propose to secure HST’s lasting impact on the study of nearby galaxies by undertaking a systematic, complete, and carefully crafted imaging survey of ALL galaxies in the Local Universe outside the Local Group. The resulting images will allow unprecedented measurements of: {1} the star formation history {SFH} of a >100 Mpc^3 volume of the Universe with a time resolution of Delta[log{t}]=0.25; {2} correlations between spatially resolved SFHs and environment; {3} the structure and properties of thick disks and stellar halos; and {4} the color distributions, sizes, and specific frequencies of globular and disk clusters as a function of galaxy mass and environment. To reach these goals, we will use a combination of wide-field tiling and pointed deep imaging to obtain uniform data on all 72 galaxies within a volume-limited sample extending to ~3.5 Mpc, with an extension to the M81 group. For each galaxy, the wide-field imaging will cover out to ~1.5 times the optical radius and will reach photometric depths of at least 2 magnitudes below the tip of the red giant branch throughout the limits of the survey volume. One additional deep pointing per galaxy will reach SNR~10 for red clump stars, sufficient to recover the ancient SFH from the color-magnitude diagram. This proposal will produce photometric information for ~100 million stars {comparable to the number in the SDSS survey} and uniform multi-color images of half a square degree of sky. The resulting archive will establish the fundamental optical database for nearby galaxies, in preparation for the shift of high-resolution imaging to the near-infrared.


Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be investigated.)

HSTARS: (None)


#17951-1 T2G Init Ram Installation @ 313/00:40z


                                    SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                               09             09
FGS REacq                               05             05
OBAD with Maneuver           28             28


Flash Report – FSW T2gInit RAM Installation: FSW T2gInit Patch was successfully installed in HST486 RAM. The T2gInit loads were completed at 312/15:22:50z and the T2gInit Patch was activated at 312/16:13:31z. After software activation, PCS SE monitored attitude control mode transitions and all executed successfully. DMS, FSW, and Systems Management also monitored telemetry during this period and everything was nominal. The post installation RAM memory dump was good @ 313/00:40z (7:40pm).

SpaceRef staff editor.